The whitewashed trees have long been the symbol of the spring workout held everywhere. Traditionally the buckets with lime are taken out after all the joint harvesting works. It’s no wonder that many people consider whitewashing the purely decorative act and treat it accordingly. But in fact it is extremely important in the life of the tree.
Do I need to bleach trees?
We have to say a few words about the bark of the tree in fact to understand the meaning of the whitewashing. The bark of the tree is like the skin for the person. It is protecting the internal organs and it meets all unfavorable environmental conditions the first. There are a lot of them such as:
- sharp fluctuations in temperature,
- biting wind,
- sun and strong frosts,
- teeth of rodents,
- and sometimes people with their habit to build a fire under the tree.
The bark gets sunburn and frostbite, rips and crackles, aches and flakes. We can bet that everybody knows the difference between the smooth skin of the young seedling and the rough cracked bark of an old tree. What causes the trauma of the skin? Everyone knows that if the skin is hurtled it can cause the disease. The infections and pests penetrates into the body than weaken the body and as the result it leads to premature withering and death.
Therefore the bark of the tree must be protected. Here is the purpose of whitewashing:
- protects the tree bark from the winter and the early spring burns;
- it happens when foliage which basically serves as the protection against the sun for the natural reasons simply does not exist;
- protects against temperature changes which means to prevent cracking of the bark other words the appearance of frostbite;
- helps to protect against insect pests the larvae of which can be settled in the bark.
So it is incorrect to treat the process of whitewashing trees as the purely decorative event. The long experience of gardeners unequivocally testifies that the whitewashing the trees is the best effective protective measure for the bark.
It is necessary to whitewash both grown-up trees and young trees. Many gardeners are convinced that young trees cannot be whitened because whitewashing can burn the tender bark. In addition squeezing the trunk can prevent its thickening growth.
As almost always the problem has two “sides”. No doubt the high concentration of lime will damage the young bark but this can be avoided. Reduce the lime content at least twice and use the special water-based or acrylic paint. But if you will not whiten the tree at all then the sunburns and the frosts will harm the young tree immeasurably greater than the possible harm from lime.
For example take a look at the seedlings that were grown in the nursery. Most often they live there in cramped and do not receive enough light training. When we will plant such kind of the tree in our garden it gets the open space and easily receives the sunburn of the bark. Therefore whitewash of the tree is simply necessary for young trees especially during autumn planting.
When is the best time for whitewashing the trees?
Experienced gardeners recommend bleaching trees in the garden twice or even three times a year:
- the main whitewash should be at the beginning of the autumn; it should be held in October-November;
- the spring whitewash is kind of repeating one which is updating the main whitewash; it is usually held in late February-early March;
- the third whitewash will be appropriate in the middle of the summer.
The whitewash of the trees which is carried out in autumn is the most effective in October-November. You should not be “late” to avoid bad results of the diseases and pests appearance.
The most dangerous for the tree is the sunny days of February and the frosty days of March. In the afternoon the unbleached dark bark under the February sun is heated up to nine to eleven degrees Celsius above zero. This temperature is enough to make the tree wake up and sap flow begins. And during the night frosts down to ten degrees Celsius below zero elementary freezes “tightened” sap flow. As the result there are tears of tissue appears which look like long cracks on the bark.
The white color repels the sun’s rays and does not allow the trunk of the tree to warm up to the temperature of awakening. Moreover the whitewashed tree will “wake up” a little bit later in the spring which will quite possibly save it from spring frosts.
If the weather conditions in autumn did not let you to whitewash the trees in any reason than you should catch up immediately in February as soon as the temperature allows you. The April is the deadline for the traditional whitewashing. And if you will skip this deadline then after it the whitewashing will be purely decorative and will not help at all. And in case if the autumn whitewash has gone according to the plan then the spring renewal can be done both in February or in March. It can be even done in the first days of April when you will have time to do it.
The third whitewash is not necessary especially if the trees are whitewashed with persistent compounds that hold up well for the year. But it is desirable if the whitening layer is washed off by rain or peeling off.
How to whitewash the trees?
There is the answer from the experienced gardeners on the most common question of what should be the height of whitewashing of the fruit trees?
- it should be completely the whole stem that is the trunk from the root neck and up to the first skeletal branch of the lower tier;
- it should be the whole stem plus the lower skeletal branches up to one third of their length.
As many people say if you are going to protect so go ahead and protect! To tell the truth it would be nice to whitewash the whole tree in such a light-repellent envelope. But it is the time-consuming and expensive action. Although such examples are often happen.
The trees can be whitened with the wide variety of mixtures such as: lime mortar, water-based emulsion and water-dispersion paint. The main thing is that the surface of the trunk is white so that the whitening composition should allow the bark to “breathe”. And it has to stay on the trunk as long as it possible. To do this you should prepare the substances where you should add the solution of adheres to the trunk such as clay, milk, household or green soap, casein glue or PVA glue.
Almost the last thing that remains to add to the topic is that it is necessary to whitewash the trees when the weather is so that the whitewash will dry out well and will be fixed in the new place. You should be sure to do the work of whitewashing carefully without missing even one spot.Tags: gardening, trees, whitewashing